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1 Timothy 4:7 … train yourself for godliness;
8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
When we neglect to do physical exercises, it will have a negative effect on our health. In the same way there were will be negative consequences on our spiritual health when we neglect to do spiritual exercises; we will be weak when we are tempted, we will lack the fruit of the Spirit, like self-control or patience, we will be emotionally unstable, we will have doubt and fear, etc.
The goal of spiritual exercises is godliness. Paul says, “train yourself for godliness.” In Titus 2:11-12 we learn that the grace of God trains us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” Peter says in 2 Peter 3:11-12, that we should practice holiness and godliness as we wait for Jesus’ return.
What is godliness?
The Bible tells us in its early pages, in Genesis 5:21-24, about Enoch who “walked with God.” In Hebrews 11:5 it also says that Enoch “pleased God.” Twice it is said about Moses that he “walked with God.” Godliness means to walk with God and please Him. We can also say that a godly person is someone whose life is devoted to God.
Train yourself for godliness includes exercises or disciplines that focuses upon God. We focus upon God by considering Him in everything and serving Him in everything and doing everything in His name.
Paul explains spiritual exercises as follows:
Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
What are the two main exercises Paul describe here? ________________, _______________
As new creations in Christ we are to take off those filthy clothes (qualities) and put on the new clothes (characteristics of Christ). Spiritual exercises cause us to lose the old weight (fat) that keep us from running the Christian race and gain new muscle that makes us strong.
You probably have heard the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”? The same is true in your walk with God. One of the reasons people lack the spiritual discipline necessary for growth is because they fail to begin with the end in mind.
Write down your spiritual goals?
God uses people, circumstances, and spiritual exercises to produce godliness in us. In the first two instances we are passive, but we are actively participating in the last. God uses good people to shape us (Proverbs 27:17) and even utilizes our enemies to bring about change in our lives. God also uses circumstances, good and bad, all things together for the good (Romans 8:28) to mold us into the image of His Son.
Spiritual exercises however are the things we actively do that God uses to develop us. We do not have complete control over other people and circumstances, but we have control over the frequency and intensity of spiritual exercises we do. You have a responsibility to train yourselves. You need to make this happen.
There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what just happened.
Consider the following spiritual exercises Jesus did:
- Spending time alone with His Father
- Reverence and adoration for His Father
- Sharing the good news
- Making disciples
- Quoting scriptures (memorize scriptures)
- Witnessing, etc.
What steps do you need to take to discipline your inner man?